Benefits, Risks, Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of NANOTECHNOLOGY

Publication Date : 2005
1,326 Visited Entry Date : 2013/04/08


Document type Report
Subject Ethics ; Regulatory & Legal Aspect ; Social Aspect
In this report, the Nanoforum consortium presents the present state of the art of the public and scientific debate on benefits, risks, and ethical, legal and social implications of nanotechnology in Europe and other parts of the world. It also gives an overview of relevant research groups, funding programmes, projects and networks in Europe. Finally it reviews position papers of NGO’s, industrial associations and political parties, which are already participating in the emerging political debate on nanotechnology, as well as debates initiated by governments, the European Commission and parliaments, and gives access to media coverage of nanotechnology.
This report is intended for non-experts in risk analysis and in technology assessment, or ethical, legal and social aspects of nanotechnology, to get a quick insight in what these areas of research have to say about  nanotechnology. It also includes an overview of the emerging political and public debate on nanotechnology in Europe. The Nanoforum consortium hopes this will be interesting to the following user groups:
1) Nanotechnology researchers interested in international collaborations with experts in risk analysis and the ethical, legal and social aspects of nanotechnology;
2) Experts in risk analysis and technology assessment interested in issues related to nanotechnology;
3) Politicians, NGO’s and lay persons interested in what nanotechnology may mean for society.
This report includes parts on potential risks and benefits of nanotechnology; on public perception; on ethical and political aspects; and on the current status of the debate on legislation for nanotechnology. It also includes a list of European research organisations active in risk research specific for nanomaterials, and in ethical, legal and social aspects of nanotechnology. A continuously updated list of these organisations can also be found in the online database of institutions accessible at No glossary is included in this report, but readers who are unfamiliar with nanotechnology can check the online glossary at .
Executive Summary

2. Potential Benefits of Nanotechnology Currently under Debate
2.1. Introduction    
2.2. Energy    
2.2.1 Reduction of energy consumption         
2.2.2 Increasing the efficiency of energy production         
2.2.3 The use of environmentally friendly energy systems         
2.2.4 Recycling of batteries         
2.3. Life sciences and health care    
2.3.1 Diagnostics         
2.3.2 Drug delivery         
2.3.3 Tissue engineering         
2.4. Automotive Industry and Mobility    
2.4.1. Environmental aspects         
2.4.2. Safety aspects         
2.4.3. Outlook         
2.5 Information and Communication    
2.5.1. Top down strategies, how far can we go?         
2.5.2 Novel semiconductor devices         
2.5.3 Novel optoelectronic devices         
2.5.4 Displays         
2.5.5 Quantum Computer         
2.6 Chemistry and Environment    
2.6.1 Production of nanoparticles         
2.6.2 Catalysis         
2.6.3 Filtration         
2.7. Consumer goods    
2.7.1. Foods         
2.7.2. Household         
2.7.3. Optics         
2.7.4. Textiles         
2.7.5. Sports         
2.7.6. Cosmetics         
2.8. Conclusion    

3. Potential Risks of Nanotechnologies
3.1. Introduction    
3.2. Initiatives, centres and projects dedicated to risks assessment of nanotechnologies    
3.3. Potential impacts of nanotechnologies on health    
3.3.1. Potential risks of nanoparticles Size effects      Shape and composition effects      Examples of consequences      Experiments on animals           Extrapolation to humans                   
3.3.2. Potential risks of fullerenes and carbon nanotubes Examples of studies on animals      Experiments on rats and mice           Experiments on rabbits           Experiments on fish           Examples of studies: extrapolation to humans              
3.3.3. Potential risks of other nano-elements         
3.3.4 Conclusion         
3.4. Potential impacts of nanotechnologies on environment and the food chain    
3.4.1. Consequences of nanotechnologies on environment and the food chain Impact of the dispersion of nanosized materials in the environment      Impact on environment of the adsorption phenomenon on nanosized materials      Effects of aggregation of nanosized materials on environment      Biotic uptake of nanomaterials              
3.4.2. Methodologies considered for risks assessment of nanotechnologies on environment Measurement of accumulation      Measurement of viability/mutagenic effects              
3.4.3 Conclusion         
3.5.Conclusions of Part 3         

4. Public Perception of Nanotechnology
4.1. Introduction    
4.2. Media and scenarios influencing the public perception    
4.2.1 Media         
4.2.2 The space elevator         
4.2.3 Nano-submarines         
4.2.4 Molecular assemblers         
4.3. Public Dialogue Projects    
4.4. Conclusion    

5. The Ethical Aspects and Political Implications of Nanotechnology
5.1. Introduction    
5.2. Ethical Systems    
5.3. What are the ethical considerations of nanotechnology?    
5.3.1. Risks – known and deduced         
5.3.2. Sharing knowledge         
5.3.3. Achieving public acceptance and ensuring equity         
5.4. The politics of nanotechnology – a balance of power    
5.4.1 Human: machine interface         
5.4.2 Military uses of nanotechnologies         
5.4.3 Lessons from the past and present         
5.4.4. Funding social science research         
5.4.5. Legislation and regulation         
5.5. Conclusions    

6. Invited contributions to the debate on ethical and societal implications of nanotechnology
6.1. Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s: “Complexity and Uncertainty; A prudential approach to Nanotechnology”    
6.2. Armin Grunwald: ”Nanotechnology – A New Field of Ethical Inquiry?”    
6.3. Douglas Parr: preprint version of “Will Nanotechnology make the world a better place?”     
6.4. Sylvia Speller: “From science fiction to science fact – a nano-scientist’s views on the current debate on      nanotechnology”

7. The need for new legislation and regulation caused by the emergence of nanotechnology
7.1. Introduction    
7.2. European regulations and directives    
7.2.1. European Union regulatory activities         
7.2.2. Other European regulatory activities         
7.3. National regulatory institutions and discussion groups    
7.3.1. Germany         
7.3.2. Switzerland         
7.3.3. United Kingdom         
7.3.4. The Netherlands         
7.3.5. France         
7.3.6. Belgium         
7.3.7. The United States         
7.4. Global regulatory activities and global action groups    
7.4.1. Miscellaneous Action Groups         
7.5. Standardisation and testing    
7.5.1 European Union metrology advices         
7.5.2 Other European metrology institutes         
7.5.3 Other European Standardisation activities         
7.6. National metrology institutes    
7.6.1. Germany         
7.6.2. United Kingdom         
7.6.3. China         
7.6.4. USA         
7.7. International Metrology Institutes    
7.8. Patenting    
7.9. Industrial Initiatives    
7.10. Conclusions    
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